Posts Tagged ‘MBDA’

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Taking Advantage of Business Opportunities in Colombia

June 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency blog.

George Mui is the Access to Markets team lead in MBDA’s Office of Business Development.

Aerial view of a city in ColombiaThe U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Look South campaign, helps U.S. exporters to expand their markets and identify new opportunities in Latin America. U.S. goods exports to Peru, Panama, Mexico, and Colombia have increased every year since 2009. As we celebrate the second year anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement more American companies are exporting goods and services to Colombia, the vast majority of which are duty-free. The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is just one of the11 free trade agreements between the United States and Latin American countries.

That’s why MBDA San Antonio Business Center director Orestes Hubbard and MBDA Global Business Center project manager David Leister visited Colombia along with an MBDA Global Business Center client, Carlos Silva, CEO of USATEQ, a Colombian native.

MBDA San Antonio director Orestes Hubbard shared his experience with George Mui, MBDA’s Access to Markets team lead in the Office of Business Development.

Mui: Why did you choose to travel to Colombia?

Hubbard: Colombia has a very advantageous geography and is roughly twice the size of the state of Texas – where I live. Colombia is also the only country in South America with access to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and has long had good diplomatic and trade relations with the United States.

Mui: What was the purpose of your trip?

Hubbard: The purpose of the trip was to make contacts and identify concrete and tangible contracting opportunities for not only our center clients, but also opportunities for minority-owned businesses across the nation. We visited the two largest cities and major centers of commerce and industry, Bogota and Medellin.

Mui: You found some impressive opportunities – can you highlight a few of the industries?

Hubbard: In total, we discovered over $30 billion of business opportunities. There are private sector opportunities for U.S. construction and engineering companies looking for potential partners on infrastructure projects. The Colombian government has a number of opportunities in the renewable energy, highway, and railway industries. Colombia is the third ranked automobile manufacturer in Latin America, which creates significant opportunities for manufactured products, preferably automotive-related. For more information on opportunities in Colombia I recommend businesses visit the best prospect sectors for Look South countries.

Mui: An MBDA Global Business Center client was part of the trip to Colombia – what was the client’s impact?

Hubbard: Inviting a Colombian-American client from Medellin proved invaluable as Mr. Silva was able to make key government and private sector introductions, particularly in the areas of construction, renewable energies and automotive supply chain in Colombia.

Mui: What were your key takeaways?

Hubbard: Our trip confirmed what most trade reports declare, that Colombia is open for business and the stigma of the drug cartels and vast conflict with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) are things of the past. The main challenges appear to deal with traffic snafus and the need for the Colombian government to continue its admirable commitment toward growing the middle class.

However, it must be noted that fluency in Spanish is essential to having success in Colombia. This applies not only to the obvious case of setting up a local facility, but also when engaging a market representative. It is important that a good knowledge of Spanish is available in-house in the United States operations.

Mui: Can you discuss on-the-ground resources available to help minority-owned firms?

Hubbard: We cannot emphasize enough the invaluable role the U.S. Commercial Service in Colombia plays in assisting MBDA clients get into the Colombian market. We met with senior commercial officer Cameron Werker, foreign commercial officer Aaron Held, and a Colombian national market specialist, all of whom were very helpful in sharing information and resources pertaining to helping U.S. companies successfully enter the Colombian market.

This was an excellent collaborative meeting in which we gained critical insight into the Colombian economy and political workings. We mutually agreed that after registering with the local United States Export Assistance Center in the United States, all minority business enterprise clients interested in doing business in Colombia would be promptly referred to U.S. Commercial Service in Colombia to obtain market intelligence and critical introductions to events and contacts.

All in all, we came away impressed with the seeming transparency and relative ease of starting up a company, pulling in on-the-ground resources in Colombia from both the U.S. Embassy, as well as local Colombian trade and investment vehicles.

Mui: What advice do you have for U.S. companies thinking about exporting?

Hubbard: For minority-owned firms who want to learn about global business, and believe your product or service can be sold abroad, your first stop should be an MBDA Business Center. Contact Orestes Hubbard, director of the MBDA San Antonio Business Center at orestes.hubbard@utsa.edu or 210-458-2480.

MBDA supports the Look South campaign with a successful business exploration trip to Colombia. As a result, more than $30 billion of global contract opportunities were identified in both private and public sectors. Additionally, the MBDA Global Business Center also identified key strategic partners, such as the American Chamber of Commerce and ProExport Colombia. We look forward to bringing you more insights from Colombia.

MBDA and ITA have pledged a memorandum of understanding through January, 2016 that provides assistance to minority companies to develop their export potential through increased awareness and use of existing ITA products and services; increase ITA and MBDA cooperation at the regional and district office/local level, especially in regard to export counseling and trade finance training for minority firms.

 

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Commerce Partnership to Benefit Minority-Owned Exporters

January 24, 2014

Antwaun Griffin is Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Field Operations with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, helping oversee all aspects of the Department’s trade promotion and export assistance services.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

This post originally appeared on the Minority Business Development Agency’s blog.

Did you know that according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export as other U.S.-owned businesses? The data indicates that minority-owned firms are best positioned to succeed and expand in the growing global economy. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, exporting enables businesses to boost their bottom line while building their international competitiveness. For many U.S. firms, international diversification has enabled them to weather changes in the economy much better than if they had been selling only in their backyard.

That said, many more minority-owned firms could be exporting more. Many business owners that I meet don’t export, in part because they believe exporting is too burdensome, or they’re unaware of the various resources available to assist them. However, expanding your business through exporting is more viable today than ever before. If you have a good track record of selling in the United States, one of the most open and competitive markets in the world, you are likely a good candidate to make overseas sales.

In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), aimed at expanding federal government-wide efforts to assist exporters while supporting millions of U.S. jobs.  These efforts have helped contribute to record U.S. exports culminating in an all-time high of $2.2 trillion in 2012. As a result of the NEI, more and more businesses are taking advantage of key export tools and resources to expand their global market share.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has made expanding exports, including for minority-owned businesses, a key part of the trade and investment priority in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Specifically, the Agenda calls for Commerce to lead NEI 2.0 – the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative – to develop a long-term strategy for orienting more American businesses toward the global marketplace, set new export goals, and coordinate federal activities to support these goals.

A prime example of this effort is a strategic partnership between my agency, the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). With a network of 40 MBDA Business Centers across the United States, MBDA has unique relationships and is well-positioned to support NEI 2.0. ITA’s worldwide network of international trade professionals offers a depth of technical expertise in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide. Under this active partnership, both agencies will look to complement and build on each other’s domestic and global relationships.

Together, the two agencies already counsel thousands of U.S. businesses each year, and through this partnership, businesses looking to identify new foreign markets or expand their exports will be better positioned to access the services of both agencies through cross referrals, enhanced sharing of information, and joint trade promotion efforts. For example, MBDA clients can gain exposure and greater insight early on about the benefits of developing an international business plan and information on various federal programs for exporting, such as ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service market research—valuable assets when it comes to long-term strategic planning. Many MBDA clients pursuing government contracts abroad might also be interested in learning more about U.S. Commercial Service Advocacy Center efforts, which last year helped facilitate billions of dollars in overseas opportunities for U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts. Likewise, U.S. Commercial Service minority business clients might benefit from MBDA’s broad technical assistance, export financing options, and an array of specialized services available to minority-owned business concerns.

So whether your business is a startup or more established, I encourage you to visit www.export.gov to learn more about our programs and people.

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